December 2009 Archives

"Logic," I remember a character in the Narnia books muttering. "Why don't they teach logic in these schools?"

Today, as passengers are patted down at security and barred by Air Canada from getting up or accessing their personal belongings during the last hour of flight (what about the risk of deep vein thrombosis, or have we forgotten that now?), it seems like all rationality has gone out the window.

1-Yesterday's incident was a plan that failed. It failed in part because of the willingness of vigilant passengers to take action.

2-The biggest risk seems to have been from the flames the other passengers tried to put out before flight attendants arrived with fire extinguishers.

Surely the most logical responses would be to:

a-train passengers to be more effective at spotting and blocking dangers

b-make fire extinguishers more readily accessible throughout the cabin.

Taking away blankets for the last hour of flight gives passengers less to work with should there be flames...

In the meantime, anyone traveling today has my commiseration.


I don't *think* it was because I saw Julie & Julia on the plane that I decided to make Dobosh torte for Christmas dessert. I have made it before, though not for years; I should have known BETTER.

The Dobosh torte is the perfect dessert *to have someone else make for you*.

Despite the copious detail included in Maida Heatter's recipe for Dobosh torte there are some things she left out of the instructions. This may provide some help.

1: Do not attempt the Dobosh torte unless you have a patient personality and enjoy detail work. We are talking seven layers: that provides a nearly infinite number of ways things can go wrong.

2: Assemble all the equipment pieces before you start: the pieces of foil or parchment paper, the cookie sheets you're going to bake the layers on, whatever gizmo you're going to use to trace the outline of the layers, etc. Count how many racks you have and figure out what you're going to do with the cooled layers when you run out of racks. Also, count your eggs. You will need 13 yolks and 7 whites, and a strategy for something to do with the six left-over whites.

3: Ask yourself if it's worth it. Yes, the Dobosh torte is good. But so is the mousse pie, which is a lot less work. And so are many, many other desserts that do not require two hours of painstaking work and that are not (as Recipezaar says) **468** calories a slice. Seriously?

4: Consider the possibility that you'd be just as happy beating some eggs, throwing in a little sugar, and making a chocolate omelette. It's practically the same thing.

5: Change into clothes that are already laundry-bound. There is no way to make Dobosh torte that does not involve getting covered with flour and gook.

6. Make the torte *at least* one, preferably two, days in advance. That way, you won't hate it so much when it's time to eat it.

7. Use silicon-treated parchment paper to bake the layers on. That really *will* lift right off. No matter how carefully you butter and flour foil or how perfectly you bake the layers (way down the instructions it mentions that layers that haven't baked long enough will stick), it probably won't.

Still, the ruined layer(s) make nice samples.


Newly recorded (at home, but on an Edirol digital recorder):The Prisoner's Song.

The mp3 includes an introduction to the song, but there are some more correct notes on my site's main mp3s page (it's the bottom section - "one-pass home recordings"). As usual, I intend to add to these...


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I suppose I shouldn't be so gleeful, but the story popped up today that HP face-tracking webcams can't recognize black faces.

Of course, anyone who watches sitcoms on TV knows what happened - Better Off Ted had this plotline last spring in S1e04, in which the dysfunctional futuristic corporation Veridian Dynamics invented and installed a building access and control system that was activated by reflections off human skin. Needless to say, the company had only tested it on white people, and it turned out that black skin wasn't sufficiently reflective (or not reflective in the right way or wavelengths) and so the building completely ignored them. It was one of the funniest things I've ever seen on TV, especially the sign over the "manual" water fountain they had to install pro tem while they figured out how to fix the system.

I'm not sure, in this case, that I'd be entirely unhappy: who wants to be more easily facially recognized and tracked?


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